Gout is a type of arthritis that causes a great deal of pain in specific joints – commonly in the big toe. It stems from uric acid accumulation in your bloodstream. The uric acid crystallizes in the joint and causes severe pain as it comes into contact with nearby structures in the tight space.
Since it tends to affect the toe first, patients are likely to visit a podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment.
There are many podiatric conditions that can cause pain in the foot, specifically the big toe. A diagnosis usually includes multiple steps to determine if gout is the cause of the pain. Here are various steps your podiatrist may take to diagnose you.
First and foremost, your podiatrist will ask about your medical history. They will want to know about any injuries your toes have sustained in the past. Your doctor will also inquire about any other chronic medical issues you have as well as if you have a family history of certain medical conditions.
Next, your podiatrist will examine your foot. They will press on your toe – and anywhere else you have pain – to assess for swelling, tenderness, temperature, and abnormalities. Your physician will ask you questions about when you experience pain and the severity of it.
Joint Fluid Test
Your podiatrist may need to perform a joint fluid test, which consists of using a needle to obtain fluid from the affected joint. The fluid will then be examined for the presence of urate crystals.
Your practitioner may also order a blood test. They will collect a sample of your blood to evaluate uric acid levels. They will also evaluate your blood for creatinine – a waste product in your body. While a blood test is important, your physician will usually take many things into consideration for your diagnosis, because a high level of uric acid in your blood may not necessarily prove that you have gout. Some people have high uric acid levels but never develop this condition.
Part of the assessment for gout may include imaging tests. Imaging tests can help your doctor see what’s going on in the joint, which can help to diagnose gout.
Gout typically subsides on its own. However, it is normal for gout to resurface every now and then, especially if you continue to have high levels of crystalized particles in your bloodstream. Treatment for gout primarily focuses on pain relief. Your podiatrist may provide you with medication to control pain. Here are some examples of medications you may be prescribed:
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
For pain relief, you may be recommended over-the-counter versions of nonsteroidal drugs or prescribed a stronger version like celecoxib or indomethacin.
Colchicine is a pain reliever that targets gout pain. This drug isn’t for everyone, because some people have side effects.
Corticosteroids can also help manage pain. Your doctor can prescribe it as an oral medication or may prefer to inject it directly into the joint.
Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help manage your condition. For example, you may be advised to limit alcoholic beverages and foods that increase uric acid levels. Your podiatrist may recommend that you reduce the amount of seafood, red meat, and organ meat you consume since these foods have purines. Additionally, it can help to reduce the amount of fructose you consume.
Choose a Podiatrist in South Texas from One of Our Practices
The experts at The Podiatry Group of South Texas have a wealth of experience treating podiatric conditions, including gout. We have 14 practices for your convenience. Book an appointment with The Podiatry Group of South Texas by calling one of our locations. You can also use our online appointment booking tool. We look forward to serving you soon!